Unite calls on airlines to follow easyJet and fit cabi...

Unite calls on airlines to follow easyJet and fit cabin air filters to combat toxic cabin air

18 September 2017

Britain's largest union, Unite, today (Monday 18 September) called on the whole of the airline industry to follow the lead of easyJet and take a 'safety first' approach in fitting air filtration units on board aircraft to reduce the risk of toxic contaminated air entering airplane cabins and harming cabin crew and passengers. 

The union, which represents over 25,000 cabin crew working for airlines operating out of the UK, has been calling for air filters to be fitted to aircraft as part of its campaign on cabin air quality and exposure to toxic cabin air.

Describing easyJet's move as a potential 'game-changer', Unite said it was an acknowledgement of the health problems caused by contaminated bleed air and fume events on board aircraft.

The union is currently pursuing around 90 legal cases on behalf of former and serving cabin crew across several UK airlines who have suffered from fume events and toxic contaminated cabin air.

In most modern aircraft, unfiltered bleed air from jet engines is used to supply the cabin, but due to design and in the event of an oil leak, fumes can make their way directly inside the aircraft cabin via the aircraft ventilation system.

The only airliner not to use bleed air is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The union is calling on the airline industry to monitor cabin air and for an independent inquiry so that dangers can be fully assessed and investigated in an open forum.

News of the easyJet move comes ahead of a two day Unite sponsored international aircraft cabin air conference at Imperial College, London running from tomorrow, Tuesday 19 September to Wednesday 20 September. The industry supported conference which maps the business, regulatory and technical solutions to cabin air contamination will be the most in-depth conference on the topic.

Commenting Unite national officer for civil aviation Oliver Richardson said: “Unite’s cabin crew members have long-standing concerns about exposure to toxic cabin air and the effects of the contaminated air they breathe on planes on their health.

“This potential game-changing ‘safety first’ move by easyJet to fit cabin air filters is an acknowledgement of the growing concern among cabin crew and passengers about fume events and the air that they breathe while flying.

“The whole of the aviation industry must now follow the lead of one of the UK’s and Europe’s largest airlines and fit cabin air filters.”

Howard Beckett Unite assistant general secretary for legal services added: “Unite currently has around 90 active legal cases relating to fume events and toxic cabin air following the creation of our fume event register last year.

“Contaminated cabin air has serious health effects and has ruined lives. It has been a problem that the industry has known about for years.

“It can no longer be swept under the carpet and there is still a need for an independent inquiry so that the dangers of toxic cabin air and fume events can be fully assessed in an open forum.”   


For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 

Notes to editors

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.